Seizing the Moment to Pray

What do you do when you recognize a need but must have some else’s permission to act? Nehemiah’s brother had told him that homeland security in their ancestors’ home town, Jerusalem, was in ruins. Nehemiah recognized a need. Walls had to be rebuilt. He mourned, fasted, and prayed “for some days”(Neh. 1:4). He prayed for success in speaking to the king, for whom he worked, about the problem. Nehemiah, a civil servant, could not even begin this project without the king’s permission. How long did he pray and prepare? Approximately four months after his brother visited him, Nehemiah took wine to the king (Neh. 2:1). The king asked him, “Why does you face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” Nehemiah was “very much afraid;” the king had never seen him sad before. We glimpse how precarious this situation was for Nehemiah, the civil servant. It’s not a good thing to disrupt the king’s mood. However, Nehemiah, despite his fear, recognized an answer to his fervent prayers. The king had asked why he was so sad! Nehemiah answers respectfully but forcefully: He honors the king but he can only be sad so long as his homeland’s capital remains in ruins. The king, perhaps surprising Nehemiah, does not fire him on the spot (It would have been much worse than being fired.). The king said, ” What is it that you want?” “Give your servant success,” Nehemiah had prayed previously. Now the king wants to know what Nehemiah wants to do.
Nehemiah seizes the opportunity. But first, he calls for fire. I personally doubt that the king realized that Nehemiah was praying in his presence. The Bible does not tell us what Nehemiah prayed here; it simply says, “Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king…” Prayer precedes action. Prayer does not have to be long nor vocalized to be effective. Nehemiah’s prayer here demonstrates this. In a moment when urgency does not permit bowing or even closing one’s eyes, take time for a quick aside to God, something along the lines of “Give me patience, God,” or “Lord, help me through this.” Nehemiah prays, then tells the king what he wants. And the king only asks how long Nehemiah will be gone. Answered prayer alert! Nehemiah had prayed for success with the king; now the king grants Nehemiah his request. The aftermath of the king’s response informs us that while Nehemiah waited for the moment to address the king, he considered carefully what the project would require. He gives the king a detailed explanation of what his expedition will require. While he was waiting for the answer to his prayer, Nehemiah planned what he would do if God said, “Yes.” “And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me,” Nehemiah notes, “the king granted my requests.”
Recognize a need. Pray that God will use you to meet that need. Research what it will take to meet the need while you wait for an answer to your prayer (and continue to pray). When the opportunity to initiate action arrives, seize the moment to pray, even when there is no time to speak.
May the gracious hand of our God be upon you.

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About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. He currently preaches for a Church of Christ in Leavenworth, Kansas. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael runs more than twenty miles most weeks, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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One Response to Seizing the Moment to Pray

  1. Pingback: Nehemiah’s Model Prayer | Focused and Free

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